Manchester United battle Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha
According to the Portuguese news outlet Record [Print Edition] (h/t Sport Witness), Manchester United are set to battle Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid for the services of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha. His performances have aided Sporting CP in their defence of the Primeira Liga this season.
Palhinha has taken one step closer to leaving Sporting in the January transfer window. Earlier, they were demanding €40million in transfer fees, but now it has dropped to €30million giving Man United a boost in the process. Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers are other clubs from the Premier League who have shown an interest in the player.
There have been “many approaches” from the agents to the interested clubs regarding a potential move over the past few days. Sevilla are also keeping tabs on the situation as they look to strengthen their squad amid an impressive La Liga title challenge. The 26-year-old is carefully assessing the options ahead of him but is partial to representing an English top division side.
Who is Joao Palhinha?
The Sporting star primarily plays as a defensive midfielder in front of the defence but is versatile enough to slot into the backline when needed. He played a major role in Sporting’s journey to winning the league title last season, breaking the long dominance of FC Porto and Benfica Lisbon in the process.
The Portuguese ace was also called up to the national team following his excellent performances at the club level. He is renowned for his defensive attributes and falls into the “destroyer” category in the middle of the pitch. At the same time, his passing is good enough to distribute the ball around and link the defence to the attack.
The midfielder’s preference to move to England would give us an edge over Atleti and Julen Lopetegui’s side. However, there is still competition from Spurs and Wolves, which we have to be wary of if we hope to finalise a move in the coming days. It won’t be easy since we are also in a race against them for the European spots.
Antonio Conte’s side is our biggest rival, but we cannot afford to overlook Wolves since they have a knack for prising away Portuguese players. They already have a core of Iberian players at the club and are managed by Bruno Lage, a Portuguese.
The Red Devils hierarchy is yet to make any signings in midfield this month despite the desperate need for it. In Palhinha, they could be making a wise move indeed.
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The instability in midfield has been an issue even before the current season started, and it is baffling how we have not addressed the problem so far. Our options in defensive midfield are limited, which further amplifies the need for the board to bring in the Portuguese international before next month. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen.